Election Preview: Strong mayor government
Wed, 13 Nov 2013 22:51:11 GMT —
COLUMBIA (WACH) -- City of Columbia voters have picked a leader and now they'll be choosing who controls the city's day to day operations.
Next month voters will be heading back to the ballot box to decide if the capital city should change to a mayor, council form of government.
"Under the strong mayor form of government the people of Columbia know exactly who to hold accountable and if the mayor does not deliver then the bucks stops with him," said Mayor Steve Benjamin.
"The form of government right now I don't think is on anybody's mind. I think number one is safety, police chief and making sure that Five Points is safe," said City Councilman Moe Baddourah.
Baddourah and Benjamin are not seeing eye to eye on who or how to run the capital city.
Baddourah a former mayoral candidate says after talking to more than 10.000 voters there was little to no concern about changing Columbia's form of government.
Benjamin's been pushing for a strong mayor system for quite sometime, pointing out for years there's been a lack of accountability at city hall.
A group of concerned citizens are fighting the effort to change Columbia's government.
The Communities United For A Great Columbia prefer a professional manager to oversee the city's more than two thousand employees and finances.
They believe changing to a strong mayor form of government would breed corruption and would take voices away from the communities.
The International City County Management Association says Columbia's current council manager form of government is the fastest growing system in the country and eliminates the politics that a strong mayor system breeds.
"The council manger form is used by ten of the sixteen cities in our state that have a population of twenty five thousand or more," said Scott Slatton with the Municipal Association Of South Carolina.
Slatton points out even with ten cities in South Carolina using Columbia's current form of government, the strong mayor system is the most widely used in the palmetto state.
He says while the mayor would control day to day operations the council would still have a voice.
"Things still have to be approved and overseen by the city council. Once the council passes a policy say a homeless policy that it in acts, then it's up to the mayor to see that the policy is executed," adds Slatton..
While supporters argue a strong mayor creates accountability for city government, USC professor Dennis Lambries says under the current system Columbia has there is accountability on a city mangers shoulders and under this system if someone's not up to par you don't have to wait until the next election to replace them.
"Kind of a double edged sword yes if you're agree with the direction their headed putting that much power in the hands of one person, you can cut through a lot and make decisions much more quickly, but is that necessarily the best thing for democracy," said Lambries.